Don't assume that, just because you flashed a message, employees paid attention.


You should read this Marketing Daily column by Brad Fay, Let’s Think How Advertising Works, that offers a thoughtful perspective on how advertising affects people.

I’m no expert on advertising, but I do know that many of Mr. Fay’s observations relate to employee communication as well. Here’s why: We can no longer expect that simply sending a message will lead to behavior change. Instead, we need to rethink how employees experience communication and start making changes to the way we engage employees.

Here’s what Mr. Fay has to say: “While we’ve long discarded the simplistic notion that a prospective customer sees or hears a commercial or ad and then “eureka”— decides to run out and buy the advertised brand, what we haven’t fully grasped is what exactly occurs on the long and winding path to purchase.

He goes on to explain, “The single most important factor in the success of an advertisement is this: Does it stimulate consumer conversation and sharing? Nothing else matters as much.” Here's why: Because the “most powerful advertising is that which stimulates sharing and conversation, both online and offline.”

This is a very interesting concept for those of us in employee communication who spend most of our time creating and posting content. We soon develop a “if we build it, they will come” mentality: Just because an employee reads or watches a message, it means he or she will learn something new and spring into action.

Mr. Fay’s perspective is that advertising needs to stimulate conversation—and that conversation is where change occurs. Here’s his advice for advertisers, which applies to internal communication as well. Advertising, he writes, must be:

  • “Content that lends itself to sharing and conversation.
  • “Targeted to the people most likely to talk about brands and share opinions.
  • “Tested and evaluated based on additional engagement and reach produced by word of mouth.”

Fascinating notion: The most successful communication gets the party started, so that employees talk, listen and learn. Makes you think, doesn’t it?


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